Friday, February 23, 2018

Career Day

Today was Career Day at Harmony Elementary School. The school contacted me a few weeks ago and at first, I was reluctant to participate. What could I demonstrate in 10-15 minutes, that PreK - third graders would like? I can't make any of my wedding bouquets in that time period...hmm.

I almost said no, then two of my friends who work at the school convinced me to do it. 

So I decided to make bud vases and each teacher / class would get to keep it at the end of the presentation. The students would rotate around to the different presenters and I would talk to 9 different groups, with 2 classes per group. 

I was nervous leading up to the event. Public speaking can be intimidating for someone who can identify as an introvert. 

Of course, trying to decide "what to wear" was another issue to overcome. I'm mostly a t shirt and jeans kinda girl, it was too warm for a sweater over my t shirt... Maybe a flannel shirt, but I really wasn't excited about that... What would represent me and my brand? What would show these kids to be an original and not be scared of being yourself or expressing your creativity? (Maybe I was overthinking at this point.) I was to be there as a florist, but my career and life is so much more than just that. 

Still torn on what to wear, I took a shower. That's were some of the best ideas come from! I would add lace to the bottom of a flannel shirt and dress it up. I have a basket of freshly laundered shirts awaiting transformations and I could shop the basket to find a shirt. Only thing was, there wasn't a flannel in my size. Oh, but there was a vintage pearl snap western shirt that fit me!! And it was brown (which I love) and I had a piece of my favorite ivory vintage lace already cut and waiting to be added to shirts! I ruffled and sewed the lace to the bottom and tried it on. I liked it, but it seemed a little plain.

 It was two hours till I was suppose to be there. No makeup on, hair not fixed, half of the bud vases needed to be made (since I would only have time to make one and give two out per session), I had to load everything up, and grab a quick bite to eat. Thank goodness the school is just a couple of miles away. So what did I do? I dug my baskets of doilies and pulled out one that I liked. Then I dug through my drawer that had some already printed patches and found one with a turquoise truck on it. Look in the mirror, arrange the items and head back to the sewing machine! Then the other side needed something and I went for another basket of vintage linens and pulled out an old hankie, that I had previously dyed. Back to the mirror with the shirt on and placing the handkerchief. What if I made a pocket that would hold my phone? Ah yes, that would do it! Wind the bobbin, re-thread the machine and sew a pocket. Now we were ready to carry on with additional preparations! 

I drove to the school and got my table set up in time for the first group and let me tell you, they were the sweetest group if kindergartners ever and made my nerves disappear! The second grade group commented on my shirt and said they loved it! I didn't even tell them I sewed or made my shirt, before they ask! One sweet girl from that same group said my presentation was her favorite so far and that made me happy and it all worth while! Several classmates agreed with her and I hope they grow up to be creative entrepreneurs! 

Part of my talk discussed my wedding bouquets ad how with an online shop we can work from anywhere - that it didn't matter if we live in a small town, big city, fancy house or little house, we can do big things and serve people all over the world. They liked looking at the burlap bouquet and boutonniere I had on hand. 

Then we talked about how to make a bud vase and how math skills are very important in a florist.

This surprised a few students and a teacher or two! In school, we all ask "when will I ever use math?" Everyday, all day long is my answer. I kept it pretty simple for them, but the reality is I had to figure out how many flowers I needed for the job today. Most flowers are ordered by the bunch (10, 15, or 25) not individual stems, so I had to determine how many bunches to order, without running out and not having too many extras that would go to waste. 

Then we discussed how you have to know the numbers of flowers on hand, so you don't over sell and not have enough flowers to fill the orders. 

 I ask them how much ribbon they thought it took to make a bow? Guesses were all over the place and I then would unwire a bow and get the teacher to help stretch out the ribbon. My bow was 14 feet long! Most adults don't even realize that the average bow has about 5 yards of ribbon in it! So this allowed another math point about how I have to calculate the amount of ribbon required for a job and making sure I ordered / purchased enough ribbon.

This picture was taken by the school superintendent and his aunt shared it to my Facebook page.

Each class had a few questions and everyone was super nice. I had a photo album with pictures of some past work and showed them, if the time permitted. Several ask how big of arrangements I had made before? I passed this picture around of an arrangement in front of an 18 wheel truck and especially the boys liked that! It's not the biggest ever, but it showed something that allowed them to compare sizes. 

The bell would ring, I would present the flowers to each teacher, at the kids delight and they would be off to the next stop. It was a fast paced afternoon and I was glad I was able to be there. I hope I inspired someone today...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What I've Been Working On...

Where has February gone and why haven't I posted anything lately??? Good question! 

Virginia, Kansas City, Columbus, Ohio, 
Duluth, Minnesota, Midland, Texas, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Las Angeles...  

It's wedding planning season and we've been busy making burlap wedding bouquets that have been shipped all across the country! 

When I tell people I make burlap wedding bouquets, most think its just for country / western weddings, but here's the thing - Philadelphia and L.A. are big cities (that's just about as for from the country as you can get!) 

I've had customers submit their photos and some are very rustic elegant, without the country feel to it, while others are very rustic country. (Check out the featured wedding tab to see customer submitted pictures.)

Recently, there's been several new color combination request. This dark purple and jade (light turquoise) is very springy and makes me happy! This order shows small and medium size bridesmaid bouquets.
rustic wedding bouquets made with burlap and lace flowers

This navy burlap wedding order has two toss / junior bridesmaid bouquets (top) and a small bridesmaid bouquet. 
rustic wedding bouquets with navy burlap flowers
 A medium size jade bouquet. I get questions regarding the different sizes of the bouquets, so these pictures show the different options. The medium size bouquet is similar to the bridal bouquet, since it has the lace collar (does not come standard on the small and toss bouquets) although it is not near as full as the bridal bouquet. Budget conscious brides have been ordering the medium size for themselves recently.

rustic wedding flowers with turquoise
 This is a turquoise toss bouquet and boutonniere.

burlap and lace fabric wedding flowers
 Navy bridal bouquet, toss (bottom left) and small bridesmaid bouquet.
navy fabric wedding flowers
 So February has been very gloomy and rainy. It forced me to take pictures indoors and unfortunately, I don't have great indoor lighting or space to spread out 10 bouquets... Anyways, this order was completed with navy, gold, tan, and white burlap roses and extra white lace.
gold and navy burlap bouquets

 Two toss / junior bridesmaid bouquets, one small and medium bouquet, along with two turquoise boutonnieres.
rustic turquoise burlap wedding flowers

 Have I mentioned turquoise goes with just about any color? This was a new request for hunter green with turquoise!
Again, I had to get creative with the pictures, because of the rain and gloom, so I went to the farm and took pictures in the hay barn, while Jeff was feeding the animals. wedding corsage
 Wristlet corsages accompanied this ordered. I imagine these are going to be worn by the mothers of the bride and groom.
mothers corsage

rustic wedding flowers
This order was different, where the bridal bouquet was jade and the attendants bouquets (medium for maid of honor, 3 small for bridesmaids) had turquoise. Kind of an ombre effect with shades of turquoise and I like that idea! I would love to see pictures from any and all of my wonderful customers and feature your wedding pictures here! 
shades of turquoise
 On a happy note, the daffodils started blooming this week, reminding us that spring is coming soon! I meant to get outside and pick me a big bouquet yesterday, but didn't get home before it started raining again. We are dealing with flash flooding and heavy rains this week, so they are droopy at the today. This girl is ready for some sunshine and yard working time!
We also had our first baby calf recently! I had told the girls (cows) at the farm that it was TIME to start having babies. The very next day, this sweet little thing was born! 
So that just about sums up what's been happening lately - head down working on helping all of you with wedding flowers, checking on the critters at the farm, and trying to stay warm, dry, and waiting on sunshine.

I better get back to work now, I've got to get all our stuff ready to go to Uniques and Antiques tomorrow, work on a few more bouquets, answer several emails, and Friday is Career Day at the school and have to do a presentation (9 times) to elementary age students. I'm a little nervous about all that and got to get all my supplies ready... Wish me luck and hope they don't find me too boring!

Friday, February 2, 2018

GypsyFarmGirl Seven Year Anniversary with Highlights from My Favorite Projects

7... Seven years ago today, I did something
big, crazy, and scary
all while 
sitting on my couch.

So what exactly did I do? 

 I listened to the encouragement from Jeff and the friends who always said "you need your own store". That night, I opened an Etsy store, established an email account, and this blog with the name GypsyFarmGirl, but I didn't tell anyone but Jeff. Quite frankly, I didn't think it would ever work. My goal was to use my creative passions to make a little extra income on the side. 

I only went by Janice from Texas, because I didn't want anyone to know, in case I failed (or for it to interfere with my day job). I started using Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram because all my friends were on Facebook. True story- I didn't create a Facebook page for a long time! 

 Honestly, the first year was super slow and it would have been easy to give up, but I kept blogging and occasionally sharing what I was making. I got featured on some blogs, with some of my projects that weren't necessarily related to the things in my etsy shop, but it brought some exposure to my blog and in return my shop, so I continued on. 

Here are a few of my favorite projects and features from way back then.

This little vignette in our bathroom was featured by
gypsy farm girl vignette

Burlap and Belt Buckles Chair Covers  - this was inspired by The Junk Gypsies and Miranda Lambert's wedding. I still remember how I excited I was when the Gypsies tweeted me and then Tip Junkie picked this project as a Top 10 Crafts to Make This Week and claimed them perfect for a western themed party. 

GypsyFarmGirl Burlap Chair Covers
It looks like I have a thing with chairs! 
Jeff and I toured the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails a couple of times and my pictures and story were included in FOLK Magazine.
Texas Bluebonnets with Windmill
 A bucket list item was to be featured in a magazine! 

The week before my one year shop anniversary, I made a burlap bouquet and things started to pick up and you started asking me for custom wedding bouquets! I found my niche and I've not quit making fabric bouquets since then! Six years ago, there was less than 10 fabric bouquets with burlap flowers in them on Etsy, so I guess you can say I'm a pioneer in the burlap and lace bouquet business! 
Burlap Wedding Bouquet
The Original Burlap Bouquet in my Shop! 
A few other highlights from the past seven years.
 Funky Junk Interiors, once again featured a project and y'all went crazy over my rusty bucket of flowers. My post on how to plant in a bottomless bucket is my most popular blog post ever! 
flowers planted in old bucket
Of course, our gazebo makeover and the reveal of our "junk yard" was another fun project, a reader favorite, and featured on many Facebook pages and blogs! 

rustic gazebo with spring flowers

One day, I received an inquiry for turquoise burlap in a bouquet. I had no idea such colors of burlap existed, but I found the fabric, completed the order, and shipped it out for a wedding in Canada. Now I have over 40 colors of burlap in stock and have shipped to over 47 states (at last count) and several countries! Turquoise has remained one of the most popular wedding colors, along with navy.
turquoise burlap and lace bridal bouquet
Along the way, I found an ugly camper and turned her into 
"Miss Gussie the Glamper" and I quit my day job! 
GypsyFarmGirl Spring photo shoot

 For years, I just knew a camper would be a part of my future. Knew it deep down in my soul and would be so upset when I couldn't find one or couldn't afford the one I found. One day, I deposited my Valentine's overtime check into my savings account (for a florist, that was the very best pay check of the entire year and I do miss that bonus.) The very next day, I withdrew it and bought a 1959 Arrowhead Camper! That was in February 2014. Little did I know at the time, I would be quitting that job before the end of the year and GypsyFarmGirl would be my full time business. Miss Gussie has found herself the backdrop for many product shoots, gone to fairs and vintage markets and even got her picture in Mary Jane's Farm Magazine!
Gypsy Farm Girl glamper mobile boutique

In October 2015, Angea Howell and I teamed up to do a show together and it has led to us having a blast junkin', more shows, and now we have a year round booth in Uniques and Antiques in Mineola, Texas. 
camper used for vintage market booth
 We went big with our first show setup! See Miss Gussie hiding back there?
mobile boutique with camper
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all allowing us to be a part of your special events over the last seven years! I love helping all of you and you've all been amazing to work with! I never dreamed all of this would ever happened or that I would be celebrating 7 years with this business. I look forward to helping you for many years to come! 

Some of my friends think we won the lottery and didn't tell anyone. We did not. We hustle, we work hard, and we have faith that everything will work out some how, some way. (We may be known to stress about a few things as well, but we won't go there...)

I hope along this journey, I can be an encouragement to you to
  dream big and follow your passion!
 Warning: Some days require more strength and patience than others.
Dream Catcher by GypsyFarmGirl